Agenda and minutes
Venue: Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE
Contact: Simon Cann, Democratic Services Officer
Apologies for absence
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Andy James (SEND Sector Parent Governor Representative –Education Co-optee), Cllr Graham Andrews
To receive details of members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a member of the committee.
Cllr David Summers substituted for Cllr Graham Andrews.
Declarations of interest
To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.
No declarations of interest.
To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 11 October 2022.
The minutes of the meeting held on 11 October 2022 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairperson.
To receive any written questions from members of the public.
Questions from members of the council
To receive any written questions from members of the council.
There were no questions received from Councillors.
To consider the Council’s Corporate Parenting Strategy.
The Committee gave consideration to the report as set out on pages 17-24 of the agenda.
The report was taken as read.
The Director for Children and Young People and Head of Service for Corporate Parenting provided a brief overview of the report and invited questions from the Committee:
Re priority area 1:
“We want our corporate parents, and other key leaders to understand and act on their responsibilities – Lead Member for Children and Young People”.
The Committee pointed out that the setting up of a new Corporate Parenting Board was encouraging, but suggested that most members (and probably the public) were not aware of the current strategy, board membership and meetings - some being cancelled recently - and that the strategy was still not clear or understood by member stakeholders.
An update on the progress being made to improve communications was requested. The Committee also asked what evidence there was to show that awareness of members, leaders and partners helping to deliver the strategy was increasing, and was there any data on whether the public had confidence in the new corporate parenting strategy?
The Director for Children and Young People explained that the revised strategy hadn’t been published yet, so there was no feedback, but it would go to the Corporate Parenting Board in January. Key leads in respect of the original strategy remained the same: corporate leadership team, cabinet and members. Members and stakeholders had been briefed with an early draft of strategy to ensure there was awareness of the revisions
Regarding communications a number of different channels were being used, including: children and young people in care or care experienced individuals, parents and carers, members and the Council’s workforce. The LGA had provided useful comments and was right in pointing out that the old strategy needed a significant refresh.
Re priority area 2:
“We want to reach our potential in education. We want our education and training to ‘recover’ after the disruption of Covid 19 – Virtual school head teacher”
The Committee noted that it was clear from paragraphs 22-27 of the report that substantial improvements in educational outcomes for children in care were needed to achieve the Council’s ‘objectives’ in meeting this priority. However, there were no specific aims identified as targets and the only evidence was of a deterioration in recent years, with no indication of any significant improvements. The Committee asked what specific actions were being taken to turn around educational outcomes for children in the Council’s care?
The Committee also enquired as to whether the virtual School Head had any suggestions regarding possible expansions of the service to cater for the 59% who were not in education, employment or training (NEET)?
The Director for Children and Young People noted that this kind of questioning was what the corporate parenting board would be looking at and that going forward there would need to be consideration regarding the joint relationship between the corporate parenting board and scrutiny when analysing virtual schools activity. ... view the full minutes text for item 120.
To consider the revised Draft Children’s Services Improvement Plan.
The report was taken as read.
The Director for Children and Young People provided a brief overview of the report and invited questions from the Committee:
The Committee broke questions into key areas identified by Ofsted.
Q1: What proposals can you immediately propose to facilitate parents/carers and children both in public meetings and at every point of contact - so that their voices are heard and more importantly to avoid their having to bring their upsetting stories (at huge personal cost) into the public arena?
Have you considered trauma awareness training for officers and members?
The Director for Children and Young People explained they were considering how to introduce trauma informed practice and trauma awareness. Trauma awareness was part of the relational restorative practice approach and would be a key plank of not only changing Council practice, but signalling that the practice was changing. This would link to the different platforms approach.
In terms of different platforms, the Council needed to work with families and create a safe space where personal conversations could take place away from the public arena.
RECOMMENDATION: The Committee stressed that it would like to see trauma training extended to every single officer and member with a responsibility corporately to answer parents.
Q2: This Improvement Plan … has been prepared in collaboration with a range of stakeholders including children, young people, parents and carers, the workforce and multi-agency / cross sector partners. … We intend to continue engaging with our stakeholders to further develop a local conversation whereby we will listen, address feedback and take appropriate action as an integral part of our improvement journey as we move forward.”
However, the list of 11 consultees does not include any birth families consultees.
Please outline the ways in which birth families have been consulted when drafting the Plan and how you will continue to engage with them?
The Director for Children and Young People explained that in terms of the consultation events the only feedback they got in terms of parent care families came through organisations such as Parent Carer Voice and Healthwatch. The Director recognised that there weren’t currently enough forums for meaningful engagement and that was why they were developing the ‘Listening to Families’ approach, which was in the consultation process and due to be published in the New Year. This would be refreshed and updated every time Ofsted came back in the future.
Q3. There is a perception from some head teachers that once a family has accessed an intervention through early help or Venture, or something similar, then they can’t access a lesser degree of service and end up getting stuck in the system. They are experiencing long waiting times for high level intervention where capacity is limited, but can’t get lower level assistance at the same time. Is this perception correct and what are we doing to address that problem.
The Director for Children and Young People acknowledged Issues around capacity of universal early help and high level intervention. ... view the full minutes text for item 121.
To consider the Herefordshire Safeguarding Children Partnership (HSCP) Annual Report 2021-22.
Due to time constraints and technical difficulties in communicating with the Independent Scrutineer, the Committee took the decision to defer the item until the next meeting. The Committee agreed to send the Independent Scrutineer the questions it had drawn up. The responses to the Committee’s questions from the Independent Scrutineer would be returned to the Committee as a report for the next meeting.
This report provides a brief summary update on issues previously considered by the committee.
The Committee received the report as set out on pages 125-134 of the agenda, which provided a brief summary update on issues previously considered.
It was resolved that:
(i) The progress report on scrutiny information requests, scrutiny reports and recommendations and other matters raised by the committee be noted; and
(ii) Those information requests where a response has been received be agreed as completed, and any other outstanding items be requested for the next meeting.
To consider the work programme for the committee.
The Committee unanimously approved the work programme schedule contained the in the agenda.
Date of the next meeting
To note the date of the next meeting of the committee.
Tuesday 14 February 2023, Plough Lane, 10:00am